About Plaisir de Merle

The history of Plaisir de Merle is a story of exceptional people who helped create a proud viticultural heritage that lives on today.

The farm dates back to 1693 when the French Huguenot, Charles Marais and his family were granted land by Governor Simon van der Stel. They named the farm Le Plessis Marly after the small village from which they had come in France.

Despite the untimely death of Charles Marais, the farm prospered under his descendants so that when the manor house was completed in 1764, Le Plessis Marly boasted 35 000 vines. The farm was eventually passed on to the Hugo family at the beginning of the 19th century through the marriage of Rachel Jacoba Marais to Daniel Hugo. The farm changed hands several more times before being purchased by Stellenbosch Farmers’ Winery in 1964. For the best part of the 20th century, citrus and deciduous fruit had been the main crops on the farm but SFW’s technical manager Ronald Melck (who later became its famous Managing Director) recognized its vinous potential and once again vines were planted and excellent wines produced.

Today Plaisir de Merle is one of the Cape’s largest farms comprising 974 hectares and it is renowned for its exclusive range of top quality wines. With its wide diversity of soils, slopes and elevations, Plaisir de Merle’s success as a producer of fine wines is inextricably linked to the land. Situated on the east-facing slopes of the Simonsberg, the vineyards manage to evade the damaging hot late afternoon sun as it slips behind the peaks towering above. Also, the myriad of slopes and aspects on the mountain allow for each cultivar to be planted in its optimum position.

The well drained, weathered granite soils with their good moisture retention abilities allow for successful dryland cultivation of vines with naturally reduced yields. Judicious canopy management further ensures that each bunch of grapes is given the best chance of producing berries rich in flavour and complexity.

In 1993 a totally new cellar was opened complete with state-of-the-art equipment and ground-breaking technology. The Plaisir de Merle cellar is not only breathtakingly beautiful but also superbly efficient, combining the old and new, simple and sophisticated, functional and aesthetic. A gentle moat surrounds the cellar softening the facade while inside, abundant use of wood softens the often clinical stainless steel tanks and machinery.

Appropriately the frieze that graces the cellar entrance pays tribute to and celebrates the farm’s early pioneers whose toil has left such a valuable legacy.

Plaisir De Merle